Both a wonderful memory and being recognized as a “good sport”.
In 1997, when our daughter invited us to join them for a Christmas vacation in Costa Rica. We jumped at the chance. She told us it was called an adventure tour, but she thought we were fit enough.
So, we flew to Miami on Christmas Day on Southwest Airlines and the fun started when we saw the flight attendants in Santa Claus hats. However, to my disappointment, even on Christmas, Southwest just gives out peanuts.
The rest of our family arrived at midnight, and we flew out the next morning for San Jose where we were met by our guide, Carlos and our driver, Jorge. There were ten in our family, and we were very fortunate to be joined by a lovely couple from Evansville and their high school twins. Since they were close in age to our grandchildren it was a perfect match.
After a short tour of San Jose, we are off in our minibus traveling through beautiful and diverse scenery – mountains and forests with breathtaking flowers and shrubs. We were captivated by the warmth and friendliness of our driver and guide. The roads were narrow and winding with little traffic so when Jorge saw a friend coming in the opposite direction, he would stop in the middle of the road for a chat. Everyone takes it easy in the tropics and there is no concern about time!
We would spend the night in tiny cabins in verdant surroundings with flashlights we brought to help us along the wooded trails. We arose early for bird watching and Carlos was ready with his big smile and his binoculars. We saw hundreds of birds in exotic colors dashing through the lush trees and shrubs. Costa Rica is noted for its butterflies that were in profusion. We were especially pleased to view the scarlet macaw with its brilliant plumage.
We were surprised by red beans and rice for breakfast menu but soon found that this is the main dish at all the meals. There is always a wealth of fruit, hearts of palm, and exceptionally delicious bananas.
Each day presented a different adventure, and we began by visiting an outdoor spa where we wallowed in pools of mud!! Great for the complexion as well as lots of fun.
From there we went to soak in natural mineral warm water pools that cascade into waterfalls as they spilled down a hillside. A real paradise with a profusion of vegetation. It was there that our Grandson met a young man who was also a student at Notre Dame. Small world!
It was exciting to float down a small river listening to howler monkeys calling to each other as they swung from tree to tree, watching iguanas basking along the bank, and observing alligators as they fought for their dinner.
Our overnight stay was at a ranch located at a high altitude in primitive cabins made of Breeko block with cold showers and a tin roof. After looking at a magnificent sunset, we had dinner in the lodge and played games until quite late. As we started for our cabins, a tropical storm came up with a powerful wind and we had to hold onto each other to keep from falling. All night we heard terrible crashing on our roof and the next morning we found that trees had been uprooted and branches covered our roof. So, Mother Nature had provided the most excitement of all!!
We had been told that we would visit a grade school and we felt that it would be very trying as only our grandson and his girlfriend spoke Spanish. The school was in a tiny village where we saw only one TV antenna. The school building was Breeko block, four rooms and a separate small building for the restroom. There were about 50 children and 30 of us as we joined with another group. Some of the children were dressed in native costumes and they performed a delightful dance for us. Then it was our turn to respond so my daughter suggested we do the “Hokey Pokey” which was a big success! Then the children took us by the hand to show us scrapbooks of previous groups and served us wonderful fruit. They were so affectionate and loving to our group that the visit was truly the highlight of our trip.
It was fun to mix with the natives at a small-town rodeo where the young gauchos were trying to impress the girls. Teenagers are the same everywhere. Other activities included a white-water canoe trip, ocean kayaking, and crossing a canopy area in the lush rainforest by walking on suspension bridges. Our last day, Carlos presented me with a “good sport” award which tickled the grandchildren. He gave me a five colones bill which had been signed by his grandfather who was secretary of the treasury. What a special souvenir.
Contributed by: Mary Margaret O’Connor
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